Andrei Arshavin: The downfall of Russia's great hope

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The opportunities seemed endless in the summer of 2008 for Andrei Arshavin, the exquisite dribbler, the creative spark in a Russian national side that reached the semi final of Euro 2008. 

In June of that summer FC Barcelona had a €15 million bid rejected by Arshavin's employers Zenit St. Petersburg, who had a disagreement with the Catalonian club over the valuation of the 27-year-old. 

Born on the 29th May 1981 in the north-western Russian city of Leningrad, which is now recognised as Saint Peterburg, Andrey Sergeyevich Arshavin wasn't blessed with the opulence of Russia's elitist and a tough childhood in which he endured was the unfortunate reality the youngster was given. 

A car accident almost cruelly ended young Andrei's life but he survived it and the shaping of a undeniable tenacious and resilient character began at that moment.

Football captured his attention at an early age and at seven years old; he decided to sign for local club side Smena football academy of Zenit. It was at Zenit St. Petersburg though that Arshavin would develop his obvious talent and the lively midfielder endlessly worked on the technical skilful nature he showcased at the professional level. 

His first team debut would come against English opposition, as Zenit faced Bradford City in a Uefa Intertoto Cup contest and a comfortable 3-0 win would be the outcome. 

It was in this instance that the beginning of a fruitful nine-year stay at his hometown club would begin, throughout this time he expressed his fierce loyalty to the team and he was a key contributor to the Zenit St.Petersburg side that went on to lift Uefa cup in 2008. 

Andrei Arshavin's scintillating form at both club and international level wouldn't take long before it attracted the interested of suitors throughout Europe. 

After a long transfer saga in which Zenit's refusal to decrease their asking price delayed any potential move, it was during the winter transfer window that Premier League side Arsenal struck a deal worth a reported £15 million for the Russian International. 

This was the start of a frustrating stay in London that began with so much promise but eventually ended disappointingly and falling short of the high expectations. 

In the end Andrei Arshavin possessed supreme talent capable of producing mesmerising moments as many witnessed in his heroic four-goal performance against Liverpool. 

Ultimately the inconsistency tore apart what could have been a bright career and after being released by Arsenal on the 5th June 2013 the 32 year old's future is filled with uncertainty.

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